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beautiful, hungry face that longs for love,' of young lovers away in the hollows,
Where, in sultry twilight weather,
Lips and hair may melt together,
and that he should begin a poem on the 'Renaissance '- -a poem, too, with fine execution in it, and features of fair and bursting promisewith a stanza so well worked up to a model as this :
Between the gray land and the purple sea,
The tone, too, of poems like 'Lying in the Grass,' In the Bay, Encomium Mortis,' and the 'Paradise of a Wearied Soul,' is in keeping with the artistic expression just considered. Still, there are in these and the other poems in the volume 'On Viol and Flute' the germs of that healthy poetical sentiment already spoken of as characteristic of Mr. Gosse. One cannot fail to see in them abundance of original power of observation, of tender sympathy for Nature's ways, of quick associative grasp, and lucidity of melodious expression. One must admire the skill of form displayed in the sonnets, the appreciation of finely grouped natural effects in such poems as The Almond Tree, Moorland,' 'Lübeck,' and 'To Henrik Ibsen in Dresden,' and the force of conception and the ingenious elaboration of a poem like The Mandrakes.' The invocation to Blake, in this poem, though not without touches of echo, as for instance,
Regent above us in all true men's sight,
has a passionate intensity and a rush of fluent melody that make it impressive and memorable, while the description of Kalliope, though somewhat luscious, is direct and with details as of sculpture :
Her face was even as apple-blossom is,
When first the winds awaken it; her mouth
A philtre for all sorrows; in heart-drouth
Perchance a rose-tree of the world's great rose !
In his New Poems' Mr. Gosse shows more self-dependence. Here the motive is more direct, there is less straining after conceits, the imagery is fresh and bracing, while frequently there is a ring as from the dainty music of the Caroline epoch with which the poet is so familiar. Maturity of observation and restraint of feeling mark the treatment of lovers here, as, e.g., in Winter Green,'' The Lover and the Waterlily,' and 'By the River.' The following from 'Leave
Taking,' is at once legitimate in fervour and a well-turned con
Yet tremble not, sweet veined hand and soft,
And press not mine with such a cold farewell,
My heart has moved thee with its ebb and swell,
Then how subtle is the movement, how rich and graceful the melody, how delicately introduced the personal element of this stanza, the first of a Serenade:
The lemon-petals gently fall
Within the windless Indian night,
The wild liana'd waterfall
Hangs, lingering like a ghostly light;
Drop down to me, and linger long, my heart's entire delight!
That is swinging and quivering with rich and ready music, of a quality akin to Herrick's Charm me asleep' and the 'Bugle Song' of Mr. Tennyson. And, while on the subject of expression, let us listen to this description of the nightingale's voice from The Whitethroat' :
Ah! how they answer from the woodland glades !
On night's enchanted shore!
From star-lit alleys where the elm-tree shades
The hare's smooth leverets from the moon's distress;
From pools all silvered o'er,
Where water-buds their petals upward press,
But the strongest and most gratifying feature of these poems is their fresh delicacy of feeling, arising from exquisite appreciation of the beauty and winning tenderness of outward nature. There breathes from them a bracing and invigorating influence, as from the varied charms of summer meadows or the breath of purple moors and hills. It is in The Farm,' with its charming situation
Where every spring the blackcaps come,
in 'Verdleigh Coppice,' with its great trunks that catch the sunset, and the
Creamy glint of waving barley, and a scarlet flash of poppies,
Seen through columns where the evening wind is moaning to its rest;
it is present with its refining purity and sweetness in The Burden of Delight,' The Houseleek,' 'My Own Grave,' The Palinode,' where the beetle
Saw the moon, and rose, and whirred
it is a pathetic accompaniment to the touching narrative of The New Endymion' and 'The Loss of the "Eurydice"-a poem at once strong in grasp of its theme, stately and energetic in movement, and tender and hopeful in spirit-it lights up with ineffable touch the pastoral Gifts of the Muses,' and the idyllic Sisters; and it overlies and deepens and mellows the sentiment in the dainty and melodious Return of the Swallows.' The larks and the thrushes to no purpose had called for the swallows, who on the other hand kept persistently to the fragrant air, over the roofs of the white Algiers '
But just when the dingles of April flowers
And something awoke in the slumbering heart
And they paused, and alighted, and twittered apart,
And the sad slave woman who lifted up
From the fountain her broad-lipped earthen cup,
'To-morrow the swallows will northward fly.'
As exercises in poetical form, Mr. Gosse gives us in this volume 'Alcyone,' a very clever sonnet in dialogue, and (besides a good sonnet or two in ordinary arrangement) a rondeau and a rondel. One admires the ingenuity and the prettiness of such things, and, if they are particularly elaborate and intricate, then one may even be amazed at the labour implied and the success achieved. But the presence of these poems in shape' (as Puttenham would have called them) is only a mere variation in Mr. Gosse's New Poems,' and, though they show excellent taste and brilliant mastery of versifica tion, they are not of much importance in any estimate that may now be given of his poetical work. They serve here, however, as a connecting link between the work of Mr. Gosse and that of Mr. Andrew Lang.
As has been already indicated, Mr. Lang's little volume is a collection of exercises in lyrical form. The title Ballades in Blue China' may owe something to Mr. Dobson's 'Proverbs in Porcelain,' and at any rate it is interesting to find, at the end of the collection, a dizain by A. D. testifying that, as couples wend their way through an ingenious dance,
So, to these fair old tunes of France,
That is at once a high compliment to Mr. Lang, and a bit of good sensible criticism. Every one of these little lyrics is just the kind of thing that demands at its close a hearty round of applause, as recognition of its nimbleness, precision, and brilliancy. The poet has voluntarily placed himself within strict and narrow limitations, and the pleased surprise, as, at every successive pause, he comes well through his task, finds expression in spontaneous applause. It is perhaps a pity that the nature of the case should force the reader into such an attitude, for he is apt to think exclusively, or at any rate mainly, of the purely mechanical features of the poems, and to overlook their substantial merits. It is true, of course, that the same objection may in a degree be made to the sonnet, and it is the case that the artifice necessary in the composition of a sonnet is a prominent consideration with both author and reader, the accomplishment itself being as rare as it is dainty. At the same time, the purely mechanical element is less pronounced in the sonnet than it is in these old tunes of France,' which on the other hand inevitably carry back the student of versification to Puttenham's chapter 'Of Proportion in Figure.' We begin to think of the brave days of the 'lozange,' the 'fuzie,' the 'pillaster,' and the figure ouall,' and of the shrewd critic's quaint admission that the poetic conceit' of the 'posie transposed' is 'a thing, if it be done for pastime and exercise of the wit without superstition, commendable inough and a meete study for ladies, neither bringing them any great gayne nor any great losse unlesse it be of idle time.' It would be nonsense, and impertinence, to say that such a description is applicable to Mr. Lang's clever and graceful Ballades,' but it must be admitted that they are artificial enough to suggest the allusion. Moreover, just as those that constructed the 'lozange' and indulged in the exercise of constructing the figure ouall' were sometimes reduced to considerable straits in their ingenious and nice fitting and sorting, so Mr. Lang himself has occasionally to write for the sake of his indispensable rhymes. Consider autumn and its effects here, for example:
We built a castle in the air,
The wind and sun were in your hair,-
When Autumn came with leaves that fly
You fled from me with scarce a sigh
My Love returns no more again!
One of the strongest and most energetic numbers of the collection is the Ballade of Dead Cities,' dedicated to Mr. Gosse. Here are the first stanza and the envoy :—
The dust of Carthage and the dust
Of Babel on the desert wold,
Prince, all thy towns and cities must
And mirth, and wealth, and toil are thrust
A good specimen of the author's delicacy of fancy, his lightness of touch, and his command of melodious grace, is the Ballade of His Choice of a Sepulchre ':